Prevention Can Save Money & Misery

Hopefully the UK Government will respond with meaningful action to the news over the weekend that their current policies will result in an escalation in homelessness and disinvestment in affordable housing. It should do. If the primary purpose of their policy is to reduce expenditure the current course will fail. There is time to think again.

Cyrenians case is that state can actually save money as well as peoples misery by investing in services that prevent homelessness in the first place. We are featured on this point in the Scottish Government’s new report (29th June) from the Christie Commission into the future of public services in Scotland.

‘The Homelessness Prevention Service (HPS) run by the Edinburgh Cyrenians is funded in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council and is designed specifically to prevent people from presenting as homeless by either keeping their current housing, or moving on to an alternative home in a planned way. In 2010-11 the service worked with 376 people at imminent risk of homelessness. Of these, 374 had not presented to other homelessness services six months later, and 373 after 12 months. Research on 50 clients of the HPS by Cyrenians showed that employment rose (11 people moved into employment); rent arrears dropped (from a total of £24,424 to £5,811) and the number of people in rent arrears fell from 29 to 11. Housing arrangements became more stable for almost every client. Mental health levels also improved – 36 per cent who started with the HPS were struggling to cope, by the end this had dropped to 8 per cent. Becoming homeless is a major personal crisis and is often a trigger for and linked to other problems such as unemployment, family breakdown and mental health problems. Supporting people to keep their home makes a major impact on individuals and their families, public services and the wider community.’

Surely it makes sense from every perspectiveand every agenda to invest in new interventions like this?

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